Wednesday, 11 March 2009

ISAF Q&A 2009-023

A discussion about different aspects of a situation when a boat learns, in an invalid hearing, that she has broken a rule. ISAF Q&A 2009-023

This is pretty fundamental. Reading the premise of the questions I was at first answering differently then the Q&A-panel. Of course should the competitor retire! If he wouldn't, a protest by the PC would be appropriate.

The Q&A answers differently. No protest may be lodged from information gained through an invalid protest. From the Q&A:
"Rule 60.3(a) allows a protest committee to protest for what it learns from a report from the representative of the boat, but not for what it learns from an invalid protest."

And continues:
"If the protest committee believe a competitor may have deliberately broken a rule, or has chosen not to retire or take a penalty despite knowing that he/she has broken a rule, the protest committee should speak with the competitor. If after that discussion the competitor declines to take a penalty despite knowing that he/she has broken a rule, the protest committee should consider acting under rule 69. If, on the other hand, the protest committee believes the competitor may have deliberately broken a rule, the protest committee should act under rule 69."

Pretty steep, don't you think?
If you run across a case like this, you'd better get all the facts straight and be up to par with your rule 69 knowledge in procedures.....


  1. Jos
    You say this is pretty steep but is it really. There is a continuing growing trend of a lack of rule observance. For some reason this is being accompanied by a lack of interest from other competitors to protest and they then mumble in the bar about how unfair this all is. Rumours then become 'facts' and the whole game loses its reputation.
    We need to get back to 'sportsmanship' rather than the current 'win at all costs - and hang the rules' attitude and we may then get better overall competition. Race officials and Juries need to play a much more effective role in this. The role of a Jury should be to see that racing is fair for all and endeavour to penalise boats that break the rules. There are far too many people who escape justice on a technicality (and think they are clever!)and this Q and A advises how technicalities can, and should be circumvented in some circumstances.

  2. I think Q&A 2009 – 023 is just fine for the first page.

    I particularly like the very last bit on the first page:

    'Reluctance to retire … cannot be protested … since it presupposes a conclusion that can only follow from the facts found in a valid protest.'

    I share Jos' concern that the suggestions about rule 69 look 'pretty steep'. But I can see a good reason for going down this path. Suppose a competitor is heard boasting about how he or she 'beat the rules'. In that case it would be unforgivable for the protest committee to stand idly by and claim that a technicality prevents them from acting.

    My personal experience does not agree with any growing trend to lack of rules observance. I suspect this is just a 'things were better in the old days' remark. Even if there was a problem, I wouldn't agree that judges and other race officials playing policemen would be a good way to fix it.

    Back to Q&A 2009 – 023. I have difficulty with the idea of a protest committee 'investigating' whether a competitor committed the 'thought-crime' of 'knowing he or she has broken a rule and not retiring'

    By what right or authority does a protest committee 'speak with' a competitor?

    Rules 60.3, 63.1 and 67 state the powers of a protest committee.

    The Judges Manual 4.4 states the responsibilities of a protest committee.

    Nowhere is there any power to interrogate a competitor outside of a hearing, much less a responsibility to do so.

    Any such 'speaking with' as suggested by Q&A 2009 – 023 will necessarily involve putting the competitor in the position of being invited to prove his innocence. In an American or British Commonwealth country, at least, this would be considered fundamentally unjust. Looking at recent forum discussions about the government law in the USA, such an injustice would invite the courts there to step in and protect the competitor.

    If a protest committee 'speaks to' a competitor, the competitor would have every right to decline to 'speak to' the protest committee, until the protest committee gives proper notice of a hearing, and may be very well advised not to do so.

    Absent something like the public boasting I described above, and taking into account the guidance I quoted above from Q&A 2009 – 023 that a protest committee must not act on an idea that 'presupposes a conclusion that can only follow from the facts found in a valid protest', I do not understand how a protest committee can ever legitimately form a belief that a competitor 'may have chosen not to take a penalty despite knowing that he/she has broken a rule'. To do so, the protest committee would first have to decide that the competitor had broken a rule, a decision that can only be made in a valid protest hearing.


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